[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ll I want for Thanksgiving,” said Jamie. “Is a fireplace.”

So, Thanksgiving 2006, we selected a cabin perched in the Virginian Mountains. The rental advertised spectacular views, and a grandiose fireplace.

We left town the morning before Thanksgiving. Our truck packed so tight a gnat couldn’t squeeze inside without first going on a diet.

Our highway trip got off to a good start. After six hours, Jamie and I were singing with the Oakridge Boys on the radio. I held the Coke-bottle microphone doing my best William Lee Golden.

All of a sudden, a loud crash interrupted us. I checked the mirror and saw a red cooler skipping across the highway behind me. Followed by our suitcases, charcoal grill, somersaulting microwave, and finally my tailgate itself.

After pulling over, I was only able to salvage one frozen suitcase from the ditch.

When I climbed back into the cab, the domelights were dim and the heater wasn’t blowing. “Jamie, why is the truck off?”

She shrugged. “I thought you shut it off.”

I turned the key. Nothing. Turned the key again. Jack squat.

Two hours later, after a jumpstart from a Clayton County deputy we hit the road again. By three in the morning, we limped into Powdersville, South Carolina, where my alternator went on to Glory.

I pulled into the first stop off Highway 85. The Pink Flamingo Motor Inn; free HBO and green floral carpet. For an extra twenty dollars, they let us upgrade to the honeymoon suite – which had a brick fireplace.

By all accounts, it should’ve been the worst damn Thanksgiving ever. And if might’ve been.

If not for that fireplace.